\^«t9|. OrilH^II^II ^ II S< u l*-M - ! MI- < J ) t3*^1I^M v <^llr*1ltl*1' J l <^II"I1I I ^i^<7i*\ ri-H-'Mr
TO cjpiiicb*: || ^-f^JT^fl iR^-7frraT-3TraT: f^TFTrl I WWKIH: 3T8*=TT %t
r-#^3TTTfeq;^t: 3ff^Rt%# ^ II W^T ^T^^JT^I^RI^ui iflpHi | i
^^llrHKIH: «jj»MI«*»<: II ^-f^JT^fl H r^l -<-TrtT^T-3TT?JT : RmH^ I ^llrHKIH: :
-%T-ter i f
^TT^T: II 3ft:
r ^TlPiHi i^c
The Original Sanskrit
An English Translation
%°ft^ II m
IT: fqFR: II i
-^ ii TjT^rrsr
5^t: 3TfMtf^oft ^ II OT^f ^-W^^^lcHRI^ui 4lPHI I ^c^TPT-%rTT^
: 6j»MI«*<: II ^3-faW^ff iR^-^rftT^-STraT: fsRHFT I WWKIH: 3T«I^T qWt ^TP
r-#^3rrfteq;f^r: grf^Rtfl^ ^r n w^r ^-w^sf^wki^i 41Pmi i i
^^IcHRIH: fqi^": II ^3-f^RJT^f| H r^l -<-TrtT^T-3TT?JT : GMH^ I WWKIH: :
^ qF^-TR-%T^3TTftfq;f^t: 3ff^Rt%# ^ II OT^f ^-W^q^lcHRI^
-^T-teTT I tap^ qY^-TR-#^3TTTfeR;f^t: 3Tf^Ru%ofr ^ II W^T Jft-*TO
n . -. ,... fe-
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The Original Sanskrit
An English Translation
An important message to our readers:
The asanas in this book should not be attempted without the supervision of an
experienced teacher or prior experience. Many of the other practices should
not be attempted at all. The ideas expressed in this book should not be used to
diagnose, prescribe, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, illness, or individual
health problem. Consult your health care practitioner for individual health
care. YogaVidya.com LLC shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental,
special, consequential, or punitive damages resulting from the use of this book.
YogaVidya.com, PO Box 569, Woodstock NY 12498-0569 USA
Copyright ©2004 James Mallinson. All rights reserved
YogaVidya.com and Read the Originals are trademarks ofYogaVidya.com LLC
Printed on acid-free paper
Manufactured in the United States of America
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Publisher's Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Gheranda Samhita: the original Sanskrit / and an English translation [by]
Woodstock, NY : YogaVidya.com, 2004.
xvi,  p. : ill. ; cm.
Includes Sanskrit and English.
ISBN 0-9716466-2-7 (hardcover)
ISBN 0-9716466-3-5 (paperback)
1. Hatha Yoga. 2. Kundalini. I. Title. II. Mallinson, James, 1970-, tr.
613.7'046— dc21 2004112200
Loretta made this whole deal possible.
For Sri Ram Balak Das Ji Yogiraj
Ihe book you are about to read, a manual of Yoga taught by
Gheranda to Chanda, is the most encyclopedic of all the root
texts of Hatha Yoga. At the beginning of the book, Chanda
asks Gheranda to tell him about the Yoga of the body, which
is the cause of knowledge of the Ultimate Reality. Gheranda
assents and the book is thus called the Gheranda Samhita, or
"The Collection [of Verses] of Gheranda."
It sets itself apart from other books on Hatha Yoga in
two notable ways. Firstly, it calls its Yoga "ghata Yoga" or
"ghatastha Yoga" and not Hatha Yoga. The usual meaning
of ghata is "pot," but here it refers to the body, or rather
the person, since the techniques taught by Gheranda work
on both the body and the mind. Secondly, it is unique in
teaching a sevenfold path to perfection of the person. A few
Hatha Yoga texts replicate Patanjali's classical description of
Yoga as ashtanga, or "eight limbed," but there are numerous
other classifications. For example, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika's
four chapters correspond to the four stages of its Yoga, while
the Goraksha Samhita, echoing several earlier Tantric texts,
describes its Yoga as six limbed.
The seven chapters correspond to the seven means
of perfecting the person. Each chapter teaches a group
of techniques that, when mastered, will lead to one of
the seven means listed in verse 1.9. The first chapter
describes six types of cleansing techniques by which puri-
fication, the first means to perfecting the person, can be
achieved. The second chapter describes thirty-two asanas
by which strength, the second means, is attained. In the
third chapter Gheranda teaches twenty- five mudras, which
lead to steadiness, the third means. The fourth chapter
describes five techniques for pratyahara, which brings
about calmness, the fourth means. The fifth chapter starts
with instructions on where the yogi should live, what he
or she should eat, and at what time of year yogic practice
should be started. It then lists ten kinds of pranayama, the
practice of which leads to lightness, the fifth means. The
sixth chapter describes three types of dhyana, using which
the yogi can achieve realization of the self, the sixth means.
Finally, in the seventh chapter, Gheranda teaches six types
of samadhi, which lead to abstraction, the ultimate means
of perfecting the person. 1
Like the other root texts of Hatha Yoga, the Gheranda
Samhita does not concern itself with yama and niyama, the
restraints and observances that make up the first two limbs
of classical Yoga. It is unique in devoting an entire chapter
'In verse 7.6, it is said that Raja Yoga is of six types. Many commentators equate
Raja Yoga with the classical Yoga of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, but in texts on Hatha
Yoga it means samadhi, rather than a separate type of Yoga.
to bodily purification and in the number of purificatory
practices it describes. The chapters on asanas and mudras
are similarly unparalleled in the number of practices taught.
The difference between asanas and mudras is not made clear
by Gheranda — several of the mudras seem to be no more
than asanas. We are told in the first chapter that asanas
lead to strength and mudras to steadiness. In other texts,
however, the purpose of mudras is said to be the awakening
of Kundalini. In five of the twenty- five mudras listed this
aim is made explicit, but awakening of the Goddess is also
given as one of the fruits of pranayama in verse 5.57.
A further unique aspect of this book lies in its position-
ing of the chapter on pratyahara before that on pranayama.
In the classical system, the last six limbs are successively
more subtle, moving from the physical realm to the mental.
Pranayama is, of course, a more physical practice than pra-
tyahara, but here the Bhramari pranayama is said to lead to
samadhi; indeed, it is one of the six varieties of Raja Yoga or
samadhi given in the final chapter. This may account for the
position of the chapter on pranayama. Most of the rest of the
chapter is similar to other texts, apart from the teaching of
the Ajapa Gayatri, the mantra constantly but involuntarily
repeated by all living beings. The sounds of the in- and out-
breaths are said to be sa and ham, whose implicit combina-
tion is the Vedantic dictum so'ham, "I am that."
The chapter on dhyana teaches three successively more
subtle visualizations, starting with a gross dhyana of the
yogi's guru on a beautiful island, followed by a luminous
dhyana, visualization of a light between the eyebrows, and a
subtle dhyana, visualization of Kundalini. In the final chapter
Gheranda teaches six very different ways to samadhi. Three
mudras, Shambhavi, Khechari, and Yoni, lead to three
types of samadhi: dhyana, bliss through rasa ("taste" or
"sensation"), and laya (resorption into the Ultimate Reality
by means of Kundalini's rise up the Sushumna, or central
channel). Bhramari pranayama, as noted above, leads to
samadhi through nada, the inner sound. The Murccha,
or "trance" pranayama also leads to samadhi. Finally, we
are told that samadhi can arise through bhakti, "devotion,"
and this is another feature that sets this book apart from all
other texts on Hatha Yoga.
Nothing is known about Gheranda and Chanda. The
name Gheranda is not found anywhere else in Sanskrit lit-
erature. Like many other works on Hatha Yoga, the work is
framed as a dialogue, suggesting that it has been overheard
and then written down. Thus the identity of the author (or
whoever overheard Gheranda) is not revealed. Chanda's
full name, Chandakapali, means "fierce skullbearer." The
epithet kapali, "skullbearer," immediately brings to mind
the sect of the Kapalikas, skull-bearing followers of Shiva
infamous for antinomian practices. Kapali and Kapalika
are both mentioned as past masters of Hatha Yoga in the
list given in verses 1.4-8 of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. (In
fact, some manuscripts of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika prefix
the name Kapali with Chanda, rather than Khanda, the
more common reading.) However, as we shall see below, the
practices taught in this book are tame compared to some of
those taught in other works on Hatha Yoga, and Gheranda
appears to have been a follower of Vishnu, so we cannot
claim Kapalika origins for the text. Perhaps Chanda's
epithet is simply a way of establishing a connection between
the text and the lineage of the Mahasiddhas mentioned in
the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
There are also no records of the place and date of com-
position of the text, but there are indications that it is a
relatively late work on Hatha Yoga from northeast India.
The majority of its manuscripts are found in the north and
east of India, and, of those which are dated, the oldest was
copied in Bengal in 1802 c.e. As far as I am aware, it was
never cited by medieval commentators in their works on
Hatha Yoga. Doctrinal discontinuities also set it apart from
the rest of the Hatha Yogic corpus. Tantric influences have
been toned down considerably. See, for example, the descrip-
tion of Vajrolimudra in verse 3.39: in all other manuals of
Hatha Yoga this name is given to a technique in which the
yogi or yogini resorbs commingled sexual fluids through
the urethra; here it is a simple physical posture. The author
attributes the teachings of Hatha Yoga to Shiva, but verses
5.77 and 7.18 suggest that he was a devotee of Vishnu. Fur-
thermore, several verses indicate that the text was compiled
by a vedantin, in particular verse 7.4: "I am Brahman and
nothing else. I am Brahman alone and do not suffer. My
form is truth, consciousness, and bliss. I am eternally free.
I abide in my own nature." 2
2 Despite the author's sectarian affiliation, he has no particular doctrinal axe to
grind and often tells the aspiring yogi to fill in the details of his visualizations
and practices in the manner instructed by his guru.
The early texts of Hatha Yoga showed no trace of
Vedanta; their doctrinal framework was Tantric. As Hatha
Yoga and its proponents, the Nathas, gained in popular-
ity and patronage, the religious orthodox, amongst whom
Vedanta had become the predominant ideology, had to sit
up and take notice. As they had done with other heterodox
movements that threatened their hegemony (e.g., renunci-
ation and vegetarianism) they claimed Hatha Yoga as their
own. This process culminated in the eighteenth century
with the compilation of several new Upanishads and the
rewriting of some older ones; these are now known collec-
tively as the Yoga Upanishads. The unknown compiler(s)
used verses from established works on Hatha Yoga to create
the texts. The Vedantic and Vaishnava leanings in this book,
combined with its use of verses from established works on
Hatha Yoga, suggest that it probably resulted from a similar
process. In the light of this, as well as the fact that errors in
the manuscript of 1802 c.E. imply an established manuscript
tradition, the absence of citations in seventeenth- century
commentaries, and the location of most of its manuscripts
in Bengal, we may hazard a guess that the Gheranda Samhita
was composed in Bengal around 1700 c.E.
The Sanskrit text presented here is based on the edition
of Swami Digambarji and Dr. M. L. Gharote, first published
at Lonavala, Maharashtra, in 1978, for which they collated
fourteen manuscripts and five printed books, including the
Adyar Library edition of 1933, which formed the foundation
of their edition. The best known edition of the text is that
of Chandra Vasu, which was first published in 1915. It was
based on two earlier Bengali editions which appear to have
relied on a very small number of manuscripts. The Adyar
Library edition is much more thorough and omits several
spurious verses found in Vasu's edition. I consulted three
manuscripts (two in the library in Jodhpur's Mehrangarh
Fort and one in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) that were not
collated for the Lonavala edition, but they were very similar
to manuscripts that had been used so I decided that there
was no point in editing the text myself. I have made emen-
dations or adopted alternative readings in a few places, but
in general the text is the same as the Lonavala edition. 3 The
Sanskrit is of the variety that medieval commentators on
Tantric and Yogic works generously called "aisha," which
literally means "coming from Shiva." In other words, it is
Some verses have been borrowed from other works,
in particular the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Goraksha
Samhita. The section on the five dharanas (elemental
visualizations) in verses 3.59-63 sheds light on the text's
composition and development. It has clearly been taken
directly from the Goraksha Samhita, verses 155-59, but is
incoherent and ungrammatical in all the Gheranda Samhita
manuscripts. In the Goraksha Samhita each element has a
'These critical editions are mentioned in the introduction and footnotes. The
first work has been referred to as the Goraksha Samhita.
Nowotny, Fausta. Das Goraksasataka. Dokumente der Geistesgeschichte 3. Koln:
K. A. Nowotny, 1976.
Digambarji, Swami, and Dr. M. L. Gharote, eds. Gherandsamhita. Lonavala: Kaival-
yadhama Srlman Madhav Yoga Mandir Samiti, 1978.
Mallik, Kalyani. The Siddhasiddhantapaddhati and Other Works of Natha Yogrs.
Poona: Oriental Book House, 1954.
color, a shape, a location in the body, and a mantra, but
these are confused and omitted in the Gheranda Samhita.
In verse 3.62, for example, the wind element is said to be
black, smoky, and white, while in the Goraksha Samhita it
is just black. I have somewhat boldly decided to adopt the
readings of the Goraksha Samhita for the entire passage.
That all the Gheranda Samhita manuscripts present a
similarly incoherent description of the dharanas is surpris-
ing and points to two possible scenarios. Either they are
descended from a single flawed manuscript or the compiler
of the Gheranda Samhita was using a flawed manuscript of
the Goraksha Samhita to write the text. The first hypothe-
sis requires a lengthy and improbably irregular manuscript
tradition predating the earliest extant manuscript, which,
in the absence of external evidence for the text's existence
prior to 1802 c.E., is unlikely. I am thus inclined to believe
the second hypothesis.
In translating, I have tried to be as literal as possible
without sacrificing readability. I have sought not to add
anything to what is found in the Sanskrit text — commen-
tary and elucidation are for the practitioner's guru. Thus
where the instructions for a practice are ambiguous, they
have been left that way. The photographs of the asanas and
mudras draw from the descriptions in the text. In a few
instances those descriptions do not provide all the informa-
tion necessary to be sure of the correct posture. For those
cases I have relied on current practice and common sense
to fill in the gaps.
h^ih^i ^ftg^r 3fm^ sm^FJi i
qe5^t *t^ff^ i^i%^§r #stft ii i
fan<Od^<0 4)[h4^1c^ ^iPrt^icJdl i
dlsSHu H|u^c£)h^,| wMt mRTW II 2
3#^ft Mltel-fl 3^ HTFTlft ^T tpffrpft I
Mahamudra, Nabhomudra, Uddiyana, Jalandhara,
Mulabandha, Mahabandha, Mahavedha, and Khechari;
Viparitakarani, Yoni, Vajroli, Shaktichalani, Tadagi,
Mandukimudra, Shambhavi, the five dharanas, Ashvini,
Pashini, Kaki, Matangi, and Bhujangini: these twenty-five
mudras grant success in this world to yogis.
MHHci c||HJ|c^ Wfm% dcWHd: I
^I^MMI< ^TFtf^T «b^MWM<l^lc4: II 4
T^^cfa Wrft H^IHdl fd J l<ild II 5
Firmly press the anus onto the left ankle, extend the right
foot, hold the toes with the hands, contract the throat,
and look between the eyebrows. Inhaling repeatedly, fill
yourself completely with air. This is called Mahamudra.
effort qforf % ^Hl^ PiclK^rlJ
HI^pH4*1 j II3T H^rJjyUISRTr^ II 6
It can cure wrinkles and gray hair, old age and death,
consumptive cough, constipation, disorders of the spleen,
decrepitude, and fever. By mastering Mahamudra, the
yogi can get rid of all diseases.
^T^r ^qT 4) Phi' ^hiRM) ii i
Wherever the yogi may be, he should always, in every-
thing he does, be sure to keep the tongue turned upwards
and constantly hold the breath. This is Nabhomudra, the
destroyer of diseases for yogis.
3?^ qf^Ft cTH ^T*l^ rT «bK^ I
3fH 3^ ^fHI<f^^T^f q^RpFT: I
d^H ^# sp^t HcMHIcH^'O II 8
Draw the abdomen backwards above the navel so that the
great bird flies unceasingly upwards. This is Uddiyana-
bandha, a lion against the elephant of death.
This Uddiyana sets itself apart from all bandhas: when
Uddiyana is practiced, liberation arises spontaneously.
^ic^^rt^t^t jprtsr ^n^rfH) n 10
Contract the throat and put the chin on the chest. When
Jalandharabandha is performed, the sixteen adharas are
restrained. 1 The great Jalandhara mudra brings about
fagrT ^TTe5^Rt «F^t 4) Phi fafcr^ : i
^UHWH«^lt f| *T f^t ^TR WT: II n
A perfected Jalandharabandha bestows success upon yogis.
He who practices it for six months is an adept. In this
there is no doubt.
'A bandha (lock) is a type of mudra. The sixteen adharas (literally "supports"
or "substrates") are at various locations within the body. They are listed in the
Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, verses 2.10-25.
H^IH^I - Mahamudra
d^)i|M«s|^ - Uddiyanabandha
^TTo5^R^st & qpjspsr - Jalandharabandha & Mulabandha
MlMlHI <=HHHI<^M 4)fHHI^^^-dd: I
The wise yogi should apply pressure to the perineum
with the heel of the left foot and carefully push the navel
plexus against the spine.
^RTfsRTflFft TCT *Te5sRTt ftrr^ || 13
He should tightly press the penis with the right heel. This
mudra destroys decrepitude and is called Mulabandha.
^OT^T ?Ts|c*? Wft&l *T^rT: Spft: II 14
With the ankle of his left foot the wise yogi should block
the anus, and with the right foot he should carefully press
down on the left ankle.
3H%£llc^cMlM| 4lfHH|cfc^^: I
3nc^q^ ^K^|U| T^I^^t f^Ft II 15
He should slowly move his heel about, gently contract the
perineum, and hold the breath in Jalandharabandha. This
is called Mahabandha.
T^TsF^T: qrt W^\ >*UIH*UHI*H: I
Mahabandha is a great bandha: it destroys decrepitude
and death, and by its grace the yogi can achieve whatever
^spS-H^N-^ *^T%ST f^HT FT^TT II 17
Mulabandha and Mahabandha without Mahavedha are like
the beauty, youth, and charm of a woman without a man.
1^]%^: ^Hl^ldl 41 PHI fafe<H°l»: II is
Assume Mahabandha and hold the breath while applying
Uddiyanabandha. This is called Mahavedha. It bestows
success upon yogis.
rjp^ c^ *R?T *T 4Mt 4l J lfa-dH: II 19
The yogi who every day practices Mahabandha and
Mulabandha combined with Mahavedha is the best of
JnM41^: VmFft %^ts^ 4tfWT%: II 20
He has no fear of death and does not become decrepit. This
Mahavedha is to be kept secret by the masters of Yoga.
<I^H<=l*TldH c%^%W ^^ II 21
The yogi should regularly cut the tendon below the
tongue and move the tongue about. He should milk it
with fresh butter and pull it with iron tongs.
TTcT f^t S*THWIrtP^I ^r#rf sPH I
^l<=lfi^^fM^r cRJ t*T^lt>T #^tt II 22
By regular practice in this way, the tongue becomes long.
When it reaches between the eyebrows, Khechari
T*HT dlcJH^ cT 3T%: 3T%: M^d I
cbMlrtcb^ fafT ^t%T fclM J)d J ll I
Gently insert the tongue into the base of the palate.
When the tongue is turned back into the cavity of the
skull and the gaze is directed between the eyebrows, that
^ xr ij^f gpT Fpn ^<=ncH4' y^Hd i
^T ^T TTjft ^RT 4r^5°l^ : ^ ^TFTd" II 24
Loss of consciousness, hunger, thirst, sloth, sickness,
decrepitude, and death do not arise, and the yogi obtains
the body of a god.
^T ^ fe^^TT^t ^m ^ fW- II 25
Fire does not burn the body, the winds do not dry it out,
water does not wet it, and a snake cannot bite it.
c^meJci^^j) t^HT ^HM^H II 26
The body becomes beautiful and samadhi is sure to arise.
When it comes into contact with the aperture of the skull,
the tongue reaches a liquid.
3TT^| ^ c^JT mt ddftd?t^H^H II 27
H^ldld ^ $tT ^te^T^T ^ I
3JSTTT** ^ ^tm ^TT^t ^h!<^H ii 28
Each day a blissful sensation arises from the various
flavors. At first the fluid on the tongue is salty and brackish,
then bitter and sharp, then like fresh butter, ghee, milk,
curd, buttermilk, honey, grape juice, and nectar.
The sun dwells at the root of the navel, and the moon at
the root of the palate. The sun consumes the nectar of
immortality and thus man is held in the sway of death.
fcmildcbi) t^J *T#F^T ^ftf^TT II 30
Put the sun up and bring the moon down. This Viparita-
karani mudra is concealed in all the tantras.
*rtft farsr ^ftf^ ^t^^ united: i
Carefully place the head and both hands on the ground,
raise the feet, and remain steady. This is considered to be
You have just read 10% of the Gheranda Samhita. Go to
YogaVidya.com to learn more.
Feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues.
Pm-Od=Mufl - Viparitakarani
James Mallinson is a graduate of Eton and Oxford,
holds a master's from the School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London, and returned to Oxford
University for his doctorate. He has also spent years in
India, living amongst the yogis.
Santosha Vanessa Bouchard, the woman in the
photographs, is a lifelong practitioner of Yoga.
She inspires her students through her love of Yoga.
Michael L. Rixson has been a professional photographer
since 1983 and a practitioner of Yoga since 1997.
YogaVidya.com is dedicated to publishing excellent and
affordable books about Yoga. It is completely indepen-
dent of any commercial, governmental, educational, or
i on i iGr-u^ i<m *-i*i- oi<^i n<-M mi ^hic^si ^o-<m"i-iq^ii i i^yi-nn s4mn- , <i-n- , m«i*^oi
5-teTT JMfd^d || ^FF^fT ^|-iT?T-^F^ TPT-%T^ 3rMHdlH I 53-^ttel^ «*% *
^ WI^T: II 3ft 3TTf^-^T«nrr ^T: 3TFT ?T^ ^T JHf<£!l ^-#n-tefT I taFFf ^
"3T-%TFT ^-f^JT dMl^ld II ^F^TT ^|-IT?T-^F^ TR-%T^ 3PTFRTTR; I ^-^^
pift ^Fft^ ^^RTT^T: II *ft 3TTf^-^T«TPT ^T: 3R?T rT^T ^R dMf^KI ^-*JFT-f^IT I 1
II ^F^TT 5Rp
rf^FTT I ^5
* II WT *ft-'
^t: Srf^Rtft 1
qi^T: II 13-f?
JLhe yogi should visualize a sublime ocean of
nectar in his heart, with an island of jewels in its
middle whose sand is made of gemstones. In every
direction there are kadamba trees with abundant
flowers. Bees and cuckoos buzz and call there.
He should steady himself and visualize a great
This definitive edition of the most encyclopedic
root text of Hatha Yoga contains a new introduc-
tion, the original Sanskrit, a new English trans-
lation, and photographs of the asanas and mudras.
"Smooth and accurate, this translation of the
Gheranda Samhita is a very welcome addition to
recent work on Yoga."
— George Cardona, University of Pennsylvania,
Author of Panini: His Work and Its Traditions
4)PlHI I ^c|<
F^TT sf|-q?T-*srF?r TPT-qFT^3MHdlHJ ^-y^fM-^iH^r WWKIH: <%H\4><: II 1
^g^rr^r: ii *f
Read the Originals™
HEALTHS FITNESS /Yoga
5-%rT-f^JT I 1
llrHKIH: 3T^crr %ft ^TFfFf ^ WT^T: II *ft 3TTf^-^T«TFT ^TR: 3TFT d^T ^FT 3qf^
■n — iii i i i 1 1 1 1 TTTnT— it i _ i i i i i i i i ■ > n i r i ■ > i
l— i _i i i ii 1 1 i -i i r r 1 1 ^-n—